'What's the role of your boobs?' Have you ever been asked that? Have you ever thought about the answer?
You might find that your answer changes depending on who you’re answering that question for. Is the role of your boobs based on your own expectations, or is the role of your boobs based on the subconscious expectations of others, i.e., society?
If you based your answer on what society has taught us, you might believe the sole role of boobs is sexual gratification. From the porn industry, to hyper-sexualized female comic book characters, to everything in between, there’s a constant injection of messaging and content that tells us that the role of boobs is only for sexual pleasure.
Even while researching this post, I was met with a society obsessed with defining the role of boobs to be a fixed narrative focused on the sexual gratification of others. After searching, “Role of Boobs Poll”, in hopes of finding an online poll sharing what people believe the role of boobs to be, I was met with the headlines: “Just How Important is Breast Size in Attraction?”, “Survey Reveals What Men and Women Think Is the Ideal Breast Size,” and “Female Breast Size Attractiveness for Men”.
It wasn’t too long ago that breastfeeding rates were at an all-time low in the United States, thanks in part to the increase in sexualizing breasts during the last century. You can read more about America’s complex relationship with breastfeeding here.
Not only is there an issue in shaping a collective conversation into a one-track narrative designed to keep boobs sexualized, but there’s a larger issue in the impact that singular narrative has on the psyche of billions. When you’re made to feel your boobs are deduced to objects of sexual pleasure, and that’s it, there’s fear in what happens if you treat your boobs, and body, otherwise.
What we need is to evolve the narrative on how we talk, think and feel about boobs. From a singular narrative set by others, to that of multiple roles based on an individual’s decision.
A symbol of femineity. A way to feed your child. An erogenous zone. A form of self-expression. A symbol of strength. There’s an array of roles boobs play. All valid.
By evolving the narrative on boobs in society to encompass a multitude of individualized answers, we allow women to define their own roles for their own boobs and bodies instead of allowing society to define it for us. By allowing the evolution of that narrative, we allow women to feel safer. And feeling safe is fundamental to our wellbeing.
So, how do we evolve the narrative on how we talk, think and feel about boobs? We begin by giving more space to talking about boobs.
Currently, the ability to talk about boobs being boobs isn’t as easy as you may think. According to a New York Times article, a report found that Meta has rejected ads from 60 companies focused on women’s sexual health, citing policies on “adult products and services.”
“A breastfeeding workshop, pants for postpartum comfort, consent education: These are a few of the services and products featured in ads that Facebook has rejected,” the New York Times article stated.
When one of the largest companies in the world with access to billions of people creates guidelines that silence voices who work to evolve the narrative of women’s bodies beyond sexual gratification, we’re left with content and messaging that perpetuates the very issue we’re trying to evolve.
Not only companies, but individuals, too, are met with sexualizing comments about their bodies, especially through social media. When some women posted pictures and videos of themselves breastfeeding their child, they were inundated with comments including, “When’s my turn?” and, “Hey kid there’s a line hurry up.”
It’s no wonder sixty percent of mothers don’t breastfeed as long as they wanted to, in part due to a lack of cultural and social support (source: CDC).
By creating space to evolve the narrative on boobs, my hope is to encourage women to talk about their bodies more often. It wasn’t until I was breastfeeding, that I saw just how conditioned I was by society to make complete strangers more comfortable about my boobs than myself.
I remember spending hours designing my own cute cover-up to wear while breastfeeding in public only to end up sweating out my anxiety under that same cover-up. It was like shame oozed out of every drop of sweat. Every look that came my way, I quickly looked down and readjusted my cover-up in fear that a nip slip might occur. I was so scared someone might be sexualizing my body in that moment, that I hurried my baby along to finish eating.
It wasn’t until I had launched Leaxy, born out of my own health needs not being met, that I began talking to other women who also felt this universal, unsaid shame in the unique health needs and generalized role our boobs played. But there was always one common theme in our conversation: when we talked about our experiences together, our shame melted away. There is power in connection. There is power in sharing. There is power in knowing you’re not alone.
It's through these experiences and more, that I look to create a safe space that offers a source of support and connection – to make you feel seen, heard, validated. It’s time we talk about boobs in a manner that evolves the conversation beyond one-dimensional and fixed on sexual pleasure.
Just as we are multifaceted, so are the roles boobs can play in society.
By offering a space where we can evolve the narrative, together we begin to evolve a better, safer tomorrow. I appreciate you, and I look forward in sharing this journey together.
Founder of Leaxy